eCitizen Portal
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Since the last refresh of eCitizen in 2004, the usage of the internet has grown significantly. With greater exposure to state-of-the art commercial websites and services, the web-surfing habits of our residents have changed, indirectly raising their expectations of Government websites. Findings from the eIMF Study and other past research have surfaced four top areas for improvement which are deemed important by our residents: a. Availability and accessibility of key content/services b. Effective search engine c. Well-structured content to facilitate ease of navigation d. Personalised information and services Global Landscape Many eCitizen-equivalent websites of leading e-Governments, including USA , Australia and Canada , have been transformed to provide better value to their citizens/residents. Some of these improvements include visual and branding redesigns and more citizen-centric information architecture. In moving to citizen-centric information architecture, Canada analyzed the main areas of federal government which were accessed regularly by its residents and presented the information upfront in www.gc.ca so that citizens can locate them quickly. Information architecture of www.usa.gov and www.australia.gov.au by USA and Australia respectively have been redesigned to provide users with a consistent look-and-feel across each website. In this way, for example, when a citizen move from the persona of a “Student” to that of a “Jobseeker”, the consistency of the layout helps him to navigate across the website with ease, allowing for a positive online experience. In comparison, the information in the eCitizen portal is delivered through 7 independent eTown websites, each with its own information architecture and layout. As eCitizen Portal is synonymous with the Singapore Government’s presence in the online space and serves as a platform to market Singapore’s eGovernment solutions and capabilities to the world, it is essential that eCitizen continues to be a state-of-the-art portal that delivers value to residents. This will help to anchor Singapore’s reputation as a forward-looking and world-class eGovernment. Technology Advancement New web technologies enable the Government to better understand our residents’ needs and serve them better. For instance, Web Analytics helps us to collect data on users’ web-surfing habits and needs, which will serve as useful inputs for continuous and timely improvements to the eCitizen Portal. A new set of infrastructure will be necessary to support the revamped Portal to keep pace with new demands. As such, an upgraded infrastructure will replace the existing infrastructure.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
First launched in 1999, eCitizen aims to provide citizen-centric information and services that help citizens and residents transact with the government. It also serves as a gateway that provides easy access to over 400 e-Services offered by public sector agencies. eCitizen was previously organised into 7 separately managed eTowns websites. While it served its purpose at that time, due to the changing needs of our users, there was feedback that the old navigation structure was no longer intuitive for the citizen to find information. Hence, it was decided that eCitizen be revamped in Aug 2011. One of the key decisions was to consolidate all the 7 eTown websites into a single eCitizen to make it more relevant and useful to our citizens and residents. The project adopted a user-centred design approach in designing eCitizen. We conducted extensive user research such as online survey, focus group discussions and usability tests with real public users. Based on the findings from the above research activities, a public “Alpha” site (i.e. working prototype) was made available for several months - to validate the design concept and collate actual search terms and feedback from real public users. With the findings from the “Alpha site”, we fine-tuned the original design and the new eCitizen now has a minimalist design centred on a search feature that enables users to easily find content and services from whole-of-government.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
User-Centred Design Approach During our research and conceptualisation phase of the project, we had launched a new “Alpha” prototype eCitizen to the public users with the purpose of soliciting real users’ feedback on the usability of the new design and actual content needs (via search terms) from our target audiences. The data collated had resulted in several improvements and fine-tuning to our original new design. As the design was fine-tuned before we start actual system development, valuable resources and effort were saved through the avoidance of rework at the later stage of the development phase. Intuitive and user-friendly search The new eCitizen has a minimalist design centered on a search feature that is intuitive and user-friendly. Using a predictive and intelligent search technology, the search feature is able to display relevant results as the user is typing in the keywords in the search box. Content driven by users and customer-centric writing The topics in the new eCitizen were selected based on top searches made by the public, and the content was written in a customer-centric manner. Complicated processes and details are simplified into concise and bite-size content, using short sentences, bullet points and simple words that users are familiar with, thus enabling their understanding of the content. Recommended content Using smart keyword tags, eCitizen is able to “recommend” related topics based on what the user is currently reading on eCitizen. Social media sharing With social sharing tools such as ShareThis and Facebook “Like”, users are able share content that is useful to them with people whom they believe will benefit from the content. This feature allows the promotion of useful and relevant government content with more people, thus bringing more benefits to the citizens and residents. Accessible content on-the-go Other than the web version, eCitizen has a mobile web version (optimised for mobile phone browser) and three mobile applications – iPhone, iPad and Android apps. Public can access government information and services on-the-go, anytime anywhere.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
eCitizen action plan: 1. 2009 a. Conduct study on the implementation approach eCitizen Portal Revamp 2. 2010 a. Seek approval to implement eCitizen Portal Revamp 3. 2011 a. Contract for eCitizen Portal Revamp was awarded to vendor b. Brainstorming sessions with participating agencies c. Interview sessions with eTown managers d. Competitors and online trends research and analysis 4. 2012 a. Focus group discussion with public users b. Usability Testing with public users c. “Alpha” site testing with public users d. System development e. System testing f. System soft launch 5. 2013-2014 a. System commissioning b. Publicity campaign c. Engagement with participating government agencies in content creation d. Continuous improvement to eCitizen (e.g. Search terms research and analyse, content research and creation, feedback monitoring, social media monitoring, quarterly poll with participating agencies, competitor-analysis.) e. Implementation of system enhancements f. Conducted various activities to seek public inputs (e.g. Online survey, Crowdsourcing campaign)

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Ministry of Finance (MOF) is the system owner and IDA manages the eCitizen portal revamp programme for MOF. Being a WOG portal for information and services, every agency that provided contents on eCitizen portal are our stakeholders e.g. HDB, MOM, CPF, IRAS, MOH, HPB, SPF, ICA, just to name a few.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project implementation was outsourced to a vendor and was fully funded by MOF.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Increase in visitorship We have seen an increase in visitorship of around 65% since launch. Increase in content created Based on the feedback and data collected, we have created more than 100 topics and have listed more than 500 eServices. Decrease in search terms without results Since launch, we managed to help more than 75% of our users to find their content via search by creating relevant topics, eServices and highlights and also by adding related acronyms and synonyms. Apps download Since launched, we managed to get more than 3000 apps download across 3 different apps with minimal advertising Feedback received eCitizen received a good amount of favourable feedback from users. Some of the feedbacks. 1. “Just wanted to let you know that the redesign is awesome! Feels so much easier to use than before.” 2. “Very nice site. Finally the government has gotten something right! Keep up the good work! Hope to see more useful articles...” 3. “The search is very easy to use. Good job. Keep it up.” In the FY13 G2C perception survey, 73% of respondents felt extremely easy or very easy to locate information and services on eCitizen portal. And, 74% of respondents were extremely or very satisfied with the usefulness of information and services on eCitizen portal.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The objective of eCitizen was to provide citizens and residents with quick and easy access to information and services offered by government ministries and statutory boards. We have several KPIs to measure the success of this project. 1. Visitorships and page views of eCitizen (web statistics) 2. Link out traffic from eCitizen to government agencies’ designation sites 3. User ratings (relevance and usefulness) of our content We had collected and analysed the web traffic for eCitizen, in terms of visitorships within eCitizen, as well as out-going traffic from eCitizen to other government agencies’ content and services. As the purpose of eCitizen is to help citizens find the correct information and services to complete their transactions with the government, successful click-throughs from eCitizen to the designation sites (other government websites and e-Services) would be a positive ROI for the project. The other analytics that we’ve used to assess the success of this project is the number of “search terms not found” in eCitizen. With lesser “search terms not found” in eCitizen, it would show that citizens are able to find the content that they need from eCitizen and proceed with their transaction with the government.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle during implementation was the difficulty in getting the right writing style for our users; our key goal was to keep the content brief yet comprehensive. Hence, we did several rounds of content reviews internally and we also developed a writing guide that we followed closely to ensure that our content is written in the right way. Another part was to seek agencies verification, as some of the topics may span across different agencies; verification may not be as simple. Hence, we created a verification process and constantly work with the agencies improves the process, making it easy and fast for content creation.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Easy access to whole-of-government content eCitizen main target audience are the citizens and residents of Singapore. eCitizen offers cross-agency contents and easy access to over 400 government e-services from across whole of government. All the content is presented in a consistent and easy to understand format. Citizens and residents who are not familiar with the types of services offered by government are able to go to one place to locate the required content using eCitizen’s intuitive and powerful search feature. Customised experience with contextual content and personalisation In order to bring a more personalised experience for the users, eCitizen allow users to login to a personalised page customised based on the individual profile: • Users can bookmark their favourite Topics and eServices for easy access during their return visits • Users can subscribe to SMS and e-mail alerts and notification services from different government agencies • Access OneInbox – a new eService that allows users to receive electronic letters from government agencies. One great convenience for the user is that they need to log in only once to eCitizen, in order to access both eAlerts and OneInbox services. Accessible content for all users Not forgetting users with special needs. eCitizen adopts the principles of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to ensure the website is usable by all users. The consistent user interface and content layout allow users to navigate and find content easily and fast. The visual presentation of text and images is designed with contrasting colors for clear and easy reading. Users with vision impairments are also able to enlarge or reduce text sizes using either the built-in zoom-in/zoom-out controls of their browsers or our text resize control on our web pages. To facilitate the use of screen readers, all images are properly tagged with the necessary text and the contents are organised using headings that are properly nested. In summary, citizens and resident now enjoy greater convenience as well as time and cost savings, through a first-stop gateway to all government services, anywhere, anytime.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
In general, by providing useful and citizen-centric content on eCitizen, we have enabled citizens and residents to self-service and complete their tasks with the government. The availability of content in eCitizen had also helped to reduce the need for our users seeking clarifications at the counters of government agencies, thus freeing the government staff to deliver better services for the people. Evidence on the sustainability of eCitizen portal is exemplified through the encouraging satisfaction ratings obtained from the FY13 G2C perception survey where over 70% of respondents rated eCitizen portal as extremely/very easy to locate information and contents, and provide extremely/very useful information and services.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
We’re very happy that we had adopted the UCD approach that we have taken for the development of the portal as it allowed us to develop the portal through the eyes of the users. Through the different surveys, focus groups and user testings conducted, we also gained useful insights to how our users interact with the Government. Because of the approach that we have taken, we are able to create an eCitizen Portal that serves our users better.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Shao Huan Lai
Title:   Senior Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   +6562110697
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   lai_shao_huan@ida.gov.sg  
Address:   10 Pasir Panjang Road #10-01, Mapletree Business City
Postal Code:   Singapore 117438
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:  

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